Archipelago seeks to combine the best qualities from commercial boats with yachting.
There’s a new kid on the block. Emerging U.K. boatbuilder Archipelago is making its debut with a vessel that combines the rugged, dependable qualities of a commercial boat with the comforts of a luxury yacht. Meet the Archipelago 47.
An aluminum catamaran with twin 450-hp FPT diesels, the Archipelago 47 is built for just about everything you can throw at her. With a maximum range of 3,000 nm at displacement speed and a cruising speed of 25 knots, she’s designed to cross the ocean or enjoy for a day trip just about anywhere on the planet. The interior is said to be extremely well-insulated, and the bow areis particularly stout, with a large aluminum shell made for plowing through small ice fields—just in case points north are your calling.
For the last decade, the boat’s visionary, Dr. Stephen Weatherly, spent his time happily fishing with his father on their Mitchell 31 in their homeland of Hampshire. When Weatherly’s father lost his life two years ago to cancer, he reflected on the time the two of them had shared aboard.
“It made me rethink my boating and what I wanted to do with it,” Weatherly said. “I had a lot of happy memories on that boat, and it made me think it’s time to try something else.”
A father of four (all under the age of 11), Weatherly wanted a boat that was safe and robust enough to cross oceans yet equally suited for a day of fishing with friends and family, and able to cruise at 20-30 knots. But as he searched for a boat that offered such qualities, he realized it might not exist. So, he approached several naval architects who agreed there was a gap in the market. That was all Weatherly needed to hear to spark the fire of imagination. He was going to build his own.
“I wanted the marrying up of the safety of a commercial boat with the comfort and family feel of a luxury boat,” Weatherly said. “I’ve seen it with single hulls but wanted to do it with a multihull.”
The “marriage” between commercial and luxury boat, as Weatherly calls it, can be seen most clearly through little details like the forward-raked windows, aggressively lengthy hull, and the separation of the helm from the salon, which allows for a late night having a game night with the lights on while the captain operates in darkness.
The mood can shift quickly on this boat. The large aft deck, coated with synthetic teak, offers a luxurious space to entertain, but once you ascend the steps to the forward deck, the teak is replaced by nonskid and the vibe changes to work mode, if only for a moment, before you glance up to the rack on the hardtop, which can carry kayaks, paddle boards and other toys.
Gallery: Building the Archipelago 47
To truly understand the heart of this boat, look to the hydraulic platform at the aft deck and the 3-foot wide opening of the rear door to the salon. Both of these features ensure that the Archipelago 47 is handicap accessible. And, unlike most boats, the floor between the salon door and aft deck is flush, with any potential flooding able to be drained by a grate in the floor right outside the salon’s door. This allows for easy wheelchair access—a quality that Weatherly is determined to make standard in every Archipelago-built boat.
“A month before my dad died, he was in a wheelchair, and one of the things that depressed him the most was that he couldn’t get on and off of his boat,” Weatherly said. “It’s amazing how difficult it is to get on a proper boat, not just one meant to take wheelchairs out on a day trip. So, I wanted to make features that would ensure that a wheelchair could get on and off the boat.”
It’s also worth mentioning that, although hull number one will run on diesel, alternative fuel options will include electric, hybrid and even methanol engines.
The first Archipelago 47 is set to debut at the Southampton show in the U.K. in September 2022.